One of the more obvious things that people seem to go on about is the linking of Islam to Terrorism - as though, somehow, there is a very easy merging of the two.
The problem is that ethnic differences between Muslims can and will make it harder for Terrorist-lining Fundamentalists to succeed in their supposed desire for international Jihad.
This struck me a few months ago when I discovered the Wikipedia article on Iranian Rock music. Iranain Rock bands look remarkably similar in their stage appearance to Western ones. They may sing in a different language and have facial features that are more "Middle Eastern" in appearance, but their style of music and dress seem quite similar to the West. And, of course, the big issue is - they are playing relatively freely in a country that is considered to be ruled by a Fundamentalist theocracy.
It's hardly the sort of thing we Westerners like to get our head around. It's far easier to describe them all as "Muslims" or "Middle Eastern people" and to make generalised assumptions about them. Not a good thing to do.
Osama Bin Laden, for example, is an Arabic speaking Arab. He is devout in his Sunni faith to the point of having head-dress and a long beard - the latter being a clear symbol of his religious faith. Saddam never had a beard like Osama's, and very rarely wore Arabic-style clothing. Instead he looked a bit like an Arabic version of Burt Reynolds with his moustache. He was secular, no doubt about it, and had little time to focus upon serving his religious faith. The President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is a Farsi-speaking Persian Shiite. His beard is short, an indication of his Shiite faith.
There are other ethnic groups arounf the Middle East. There are Kurds, there are Pashtuns, there are Tajiks and there are Turkic people. All have their own customs, religious peculiarities and language.
Even though Islam unites these people in their faith, it is exceptionally difficult to cross cultural backgrounds. It certainly happens, of course, but it is not endemic.
Islamic Terrorism is, therefore, not as much a danger as people think. The 9/11 Terrorists were Arabs. The Taliban are Pashtun. Iraqis are Arabs. Iranians are Persians. Iraq may break up over ethnic lines but it is unlikely that Arabic Shiite Iraqis would agree with joing the Persian Shiite Iran. Different language and culture. Like Australia being offered to join Greece.
These differences are real, no imagined. Muslims are not a monolithic, easily-defined group of people that we Westerners can demonise. There are certainly radical elements in all these groups, but their different languages and experience make it exceptionally difficult for a group like Al-Qaeda to move through.
© 2007 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/
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